CATO OP-EDS

Doug Bandow President Donald Trump wants to purchase Greenland, a self-governing territory of Denmark. “Strategically, it’s interesting,” he observed, though “it is not number one on the burner.” Alas, the Danes aren’t impressed. “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland,” said Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Greenlanders were a bit blunter. Inuit Maya Sialuk told the Wall Street Journal: “We are still trying to recover from a colonization period of almost 300 years. Then there is this white dude in the States who’s talking about purchasing us.” Our nation’s problems are caused not by a lack of territory but increasingly disjointed cultural identities. There’s only one solution. Trump, always in character, called the Prime Minister’s response “nasty” on Wednesday and abruptly canceled a bi-lateral meeting with her government planned for next month. In 1867, Secretary of State William Seward, who orchestrated the acquisition of Alaska, proposed buying Greenland. In 1946, the Truman administration did likewise. Both times, the Danes said no. Greenland is not just a place; it is a territory of 56,000 people who largely govern themselves—with a parliament and prime minister—other than in international affairs, which Copenhagen manages, though in consultation with the locals. In fact, internationally Greenlanders are viewed as an independent people. The original residents were Inuits. Vikings showed up in the 10th century, and the territory eventually became part [...]
Thu, Aug 22, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow In mid-1939 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had a problem. He wanted to go to war with the Soviet Union in order to grab precious Lebensraum, or living space — and eradicate the Bolshevik menace. The Western powers, however, namely Great Britain and France, refused to make a deal with him. Instead, they guaranteed the security of Poland, the next obvious Nazi target and pathway to the USSR. He wanted to avoid a two-front war, which ended badly for the Germans in World War I. So the Austrian corporal turned German Führer sought a deus ex machina. He found it on August 23, 1939, when the Treaty of Non-Aggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact and Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the names of the respective dictators and foreign ministers who negotiated the agreement’s terms, was signed. While diplomacy almost always is preferable to war, the two sometime coincide. Plenty of plundering marauders have made common cause. But it is hard to think of an example of greater depravity: two of the worst mass murderers in history dividing the world between them. World War I left both Germany and Russia isolated pariah states. Germany’s new Weimar republic had expected gentler treatment by the allies, having surrendered under Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points” and then defenestrated the Kaiser and [...]
Wed, Aug 21, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Timothy Sandefur Across the map of the United States, the borders of Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona draw a distinct line. It’s the 36º30′ line, a remnant of the boundary between free and slave states drawn in 1820. It is a scar across the belly of America, and a vivid symbol of the ways in which slavery still touches nearly every facet of American history. That pervasive legacy is the subject of a series of articles in The New York Times titled “The 1619 Project.” To cover the history of slavery and its modern effects is certainly a worthy goal, and much of the Project achieves that goal effectively. Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s portrait of the Louisiana sugar industry, for instance, vividly covers a region that its victims considered the worst of all of slavery’s forms. Even better is Nikole Hannah-Jones’s celebration of black-led political movements. She is certainly correct that “without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different” and “might not be a democracy at all.” Where the 1619 articles go wrong is in a persistent and off-key theme: an effort to prove that slavery “is the country’s very origin,” that slavery is the source of “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional,” and that, in Hannah-Jones’s words, the [...]
Wed, Aug 21, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Jonathan Blanks and Jeffrey A. Singer What do gun owners and pain patients have in common? They both may be collateral damage of policy hastily enacted in response to catastrophic news. Mass shootings and drug overdoses naturally evoke fear and outrage. But with populism animating both major parties, we should be wary of policy making through fear. Visceral reactions to tragedies are normal, but new laws and restrictions rarely reduce harm and often make matters worse. The best public policy relies on data-driven evidence. While all gun deaths have a common denominator of firearms, the vast majority of gun deaths have little in common with the mass shootings that dominate headlines. The scale of those differences is staggering and the facts undermine the current advocacy that focuses on “assault weapons.” Visceral reactions to tragedies are normal, but new laws and restrictions rarely reduce harm and often make matters worse. The best public policy relies on data-driven evidence. According to Mother Jones’ mass shootings database, there have been 114 mass and spree shootings in the U.S. since 1982. Those tragedies have resulted in 934 deaths and 1,406 people injured. In 2017, there were nearly 40,000 gun deaths in the United States. Of that number, about 24,000 died by suicide. Gun suicides make up just over half of the roughly 47,000 American suicides annually. About [...]
Wed, Aug 21, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Democrats running for president have certainly not hesitated to criticize President Trump’s trade policies. There is a good reason for the rhetoric. Several recent studies, from researchers at Harvard, Columbia, the IMF, and two different branches of the Federal Reserve, have all concluded that the tariffs imposed by President Trump on China and others have indeed hurt American consumers and threatened economic growth domestically and internationally. For instance, scholars at Columbia, Princeton, and the New York Fed found that the Trump tariffs had reduced U.S. real income by $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018. In response — or perhaps just because Americans have a reactive response to any Trump policy — polls suggest that support for free trade is on the rise. A Monmouth poll found that 52 percent of Americans in 2018 think free-trade agreements are good for the United States, a dramatic increase when compared to 24 percent in 2015. Democrats are right to disagree with Trump. Too bad they don’t bring any good ideas to the table. But what exactly are the Democratic presidential candidates proposing as an alternative? Their policies — as opposed to their words — don’t seem all that different. In fact, some of the Democratic plans may be even more restrictive. For example, many experts believe that the best way to [...]
Wed, Aug 21, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
GDP
Steve H. Hanke Yesterday, the ticket of Alberto Fernandez and Christina Kirchner crushed the hapless President of the Argentine Republic Mauricio Macri in a primary election. Their victory virtually guarantees that the Fernandez-Kirchner team will occupy the Casa Rosada after the presidential election scheduled for October. For many, including the pollsters, Sunday’s results were a stunner. Not for me. I have been warning for over a year that gradualism, which is Macri’s mantra, is a formula for political disaster. If that wasn’t enough, the Argentine peso is another time bomb that has sent many politicians in Argentina into early retirement. And, to add insult to injury, Macri called in the “firefighters” from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to salvage the peso. These three factors sealed Macri’s fate. As it turns out, this movie has been played over-and-over again in Argentina. Argentina has seen many political gradualists bite the dust. What makes Macri unique is that he advertised gradualism as a virtue. Macri and his advisers obviously never studied the history of economic gradualism. When presidents are faced with a mountain of economic problems, it’s the Big Bangers who succeed. As for the venom that can be injected by a peso crisis, the instances of the poison delivered by that snake bite are almost too numerous to count. To list but a few of [...]
Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Alex Nowrasteh While President Trump’s immigration rhetoric continues to focus on the need to build a southern border wall, his administration is quietly pursuing a policy that could provide a lasting solution to the ongoing migrant surge. The Department of Labor recently signed an agreement with Guatemala to increase bilateral cooperation for the H-2A visa program for low-skilled Guatemalans. By providing transparency and accountability measures, such as ensuring that labor recruiters are bona fide and vetted, the agreement paves the way for more Guatemalans to come legally. The administration should sign similar agreements with the other Northern Triangle countries, El Salvador and Honduras, which are responsible for the overwhelming number of migrants, as well as exempt them from H-2A seasonality requirements. Historical experience suggests increasing legal immigration options would reduce the number who come illegally. The Trump administration could end the Central American border surge by shelving unhelpful border wall boasts in favor of doubling down on sound H-2A visa policy initiatives. The H-2A visa is for seasonal workers in agriculture. It offers low-skilled migrants the best — and in many cases only — opportunity to come work in the U.S., while also addressing the acute labor shortage faced by American farmers. The Trump administration seems to recognize that economic migration can be channeled into this legal system. That’s important, because the surge of Central American [...]
Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Randal O'Toole The Endangered Species Act has been called the strongest environmental law Congress has ever written because it gives the government almost unlimited power to regulate private landowners with the objective of saving wildlife, fish, and even insects. Environmental groups that relish seeing this law enforced are upset that the Trump administration is proposing to change how the law is administered. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution forbids the taking of private property for public use without compensation. The Endangered Species Act violates the spirit, if not the letter, of this amendment. Under the law, if you have an endangered species on your land, or if the government thinks you might have an endangered species on your land, or if the government knows you don’t have an endangered species on your land but thinks that you might someday have that species on your land, then the government can so strictly regulate your land that you can’t get any economic use out of it. For example, the government told Louisiana landowners that they couldn’t develop their property because it was defined as “critical habitat” for a rare frog - even though the frog didn’t, and couldn’t, live on the land without completely removing existing trees and replacing them with other species. Effectively, the government is requiring some private landowners to house and feed certain species of wildlife at [...]
Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Neal McCluskey If government says that you are free to believe in something, but not to act on it, you are not truly free. That reality lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed by the Bethel Christian Academy against the state of Maryland, which kicked the academy out of a private school voucher program for having policies consistent with the school’s religious values. Such unequal treatment is unacceptable. Immediately at issue are the school’s policies requiring that students and staff behave in ways consistent with the idea of marriage being between a man and a woman, and an individual’s proper gender being the one assigned at birth. The state maintains that those policies are discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals and that allowing public money - school vouchers from the state’s BOOST program - to flow to Bethel Christian is unacceptable. The state’s position is totally understandable: All people should be treated equally when government is involved. The problem is that the state government is not treating religious people equally - a problem in the public education system not just in Maryland, but in every state in the country. It would be better if Maryland had a scholarship tax credit program than a voucher. Then taxpayers could choose to direct their education dollars to religious institutions and get a credit for it, rather [...]
Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Ted Galen Carpenter President Trump is once again beating the drums about the need for greater burden-sharing by U.S. allies. The latest example is his demand that South Koreans pay “substantially more” than the current $990 million a year for defraying the costs of American troops defending their country from North Korea.  This is not a new refrain from the president. Most of Trump’s spats with NATO members have focused on the financial aspects of burden-sharing. Yet the nature of his complaints leads to the inescapable conclusion that if allies were willing to spend more on collective defense efforts, he would have no problem maintaining Washington’s vast array of military deployments around the world. Trump’s obsession with financial burden-sharing misses a far more fundamental problem. Certainly, the tendency of U.S. allies to skimp on their own defense spending and instead free ride on the oversized American military budget is annoying and unhealthy. But the more serious problem is that so many of Washington’s defense commitments to allies no longer make sense-if they ever did. Not only are such obligations a waste of tax dollars, they needlessly put American lives at risk, and given the danger of nuclear war in some cases, put America’s existence as a functioning nation in jeopardy. American military personnel should not be mercenaries defending the interests of allies and security [...]
Tue, Aug 20, 2019
Source: OP-EDS

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